As the generation winds down, publishers appear to be more and more beholden to a handful of grand franchises for their bread money. That's the way it looks, anyway. In truth, the likes of EA, Ubisoft and Activision are gearing up for big reveals on next generation platforms. EA has between "three to five" Nextbox projects in the can, many being created right under our noses by studios theoretically devoted to the already-known.
DICE is increasingly EA's workhorse, its Frostbite 2 engine serving as the backbone of projects like Dragon Age 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Need for Speed: The Run. At the moment the studio's focus is very much Battlefield - DLC packs for last year's Battlefield 3 have proven popular, eating into sales of the latest releases, and Battlefield 4 is locked-in for release no later than March 2014. But according to EA Games vice-president Patrick Soderlund, there's more bubbling away under the surface than 'Man Shoots Man In Exhilarating Real-World Scenarios'.
Asked whether it was hard to justify risks like Mirror's Edge while established franchises are performing so well, Soderlund observed: "Well it depends, right? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. It's also important for us - the DICE guys are roughly 300 people in the Stockholm studio; not all of them are working on Battlefield things, and that's intentional, because we don't want to become a Battlefield factory.
"The minute we start saying 'you're going to make a Battlefield game for the rest of your life', they're going to go some place else," he pointed out. "So for them to make great Battlefield games there need to be other things for them to do as well. That's why we have people who move around quite a bit. And then obviously we have a boatload of people that just want to make Battlefield because they love it.
"Same thing with the team in San Francisco that are making Dead Space," Soderlund went on. "It's a stunning team and they're passionate about what they do, and they love making Dead Space. Then the answer's 'well, then make Dead Space'. Then we have to figure out how to sell it and make it successful."
Sounds like he knows what his job description is. For more from Soderlund, pick up a copy of OXM issue 93 - it's going out to subscribers now, hits shelves Friday, 23rd November, and is chock-a-block with xenomorphs and colonial marines.
Update: According to former Battlefield executive producer Ben Cousins, Mirror's Edge 2 is in production at DICE. Just thought you all should know.